Downtown Sherman was transformed briefly into New Orleans on Saturday as crowds gathered for the second Red River Mardi Gras and Jazz Festival. The festival, which was organized by and benefited the Downtown Sherman Preservation and Revitalization, brought a taste of Louisiana culture to downtown Sherman just in time for Fat Tuesday.

Downtown Sherman was transformed briefly into New Orleans on Saturday as crowds gathered for the second Red River Mardi Gras and Jazz Festival. The festival, which was organized by and benefited the Downtown Sherman Preservation and Revitalization, brought a taste of Louisiana culture to downtown Sherman just in time for Fat Tuesday.


"It is getting bigger each year, so that is great," said DSPR Board Member Tom Kyle. Kyle said in its first year, the event brought about 1,500 people out to downtown Sherman, and he hopes this year’s numbers will be even higher.


"It is all just for fun," he said. "People can come out, relax and enjoy some good music."


While the first two years have been focused on Sherman, Kyle said DSPR has a 10-year plan to grow the event to encompass the entire region. "No one on this area is doing a Mardi Gras festival," said Kyle. "The closest is in Oak Cliff."


This year, Kyle said the group brought in more musicians, bringing the total to 12 acts at four venues. Also new in the second year, the festival held a multi-cultural event for children at the Sherman Municipal Building entitled "Making History" coordinated by the Webster Crocker, director of the Sherman Community Players Theatricks.


Among the new performers in 2015 was the Denison Jazz Ensemble, lead by Band Director Bob Archer. Archer said the group, which is made up of Denison High School band students, wanted to play last year but had scheduling conflicts.


"This is a real opportunity for our young folks to get out and show their talents," said Archer.


Archer described New Orleans as the "cradle of Jazz." While the genre has grown and evolved over the decades, one can still hear the original style in the city.


"They still keep the old jazz alive today," he said.


The Sherman Jazz Museum was open for the festivities, and hosted three groups throughout the evening. Museum owner Bill Collins said his love of jazz came from his father, who played the trumpet on weekends to help pay his way for college. As a kid, Collins said his house was filled with jazz records and other recordings.


For Collins, the heart of jazz music comes from the improvisational nature of the medium — different band compositions can end with completely different results and the music is never the same.


"Every concert is different," he said. "You never know what they are going to play."


Last year, about 400 people came to the museum over the festival weekend making it the busiest of the year, said Collins, who was happy to see support for the genre.


"Jazz is not America’s pop music, that’s for sure," he said. "To see people come out in these numbers is kinda neat."